Dempsey was a female
American Pit Bull Terrier who was the subject of a high-profile test
case of the
Dangerous Dogs Act 1991. She was owned by Dianne Fanneran and lived
in London. She died
While being walked one evening in April
leashed in accordance with
the law, she was taken ill, and the person walking her (who was not her owner)
had to remove her muzzle so she could be sick. This was spotted by two passing
Three months later, at
Magistrates' Court, Dempsey was sentenced to death under the Dangerous Dogs
Act for being in public unmuzzled.
Dempsey was then put by the police into secret
kennels for three years,
during which various legal appeals took place at the
Crown Court, the
High Court and even the
House of Lords.
The case was extensively reported by the British and international media, and
even taken up by actress-turned-animal rights campaigner
Bardot, who offered Dempsey sanctuary in
France to escape British
The case was finally dismissed in November
1995 on a
technicality, namely that Dempsey's owner — who had not been involved in the
original incident and bizarrely was not told about it until long afterwards —
did not know about the first court case in advance. Dempsey was reprieved, and
went on to live to the age of 17.
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